An informed journey through three decades of the civil-rights movement, by one of its major activists. A Baptist minister, Abernathy here recalls as sources of both idealism and faith his education in the segregated South, an early spiritual calling to the church, and the example set by his parents. As a young minister in Montgomery, Ala., Abemathy first met Martin Luther King, Jr., whom he would serve as companion, advisor, and second-in-command at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, focus of King's influence. While several excellent histories of the era have been written (e.g., David J. Garrow's Bearing the Cross, 1986), this very personal account is a fine new source, and confirmation, of details. Abernathy's recollections of major actors in the national movement for minority rights are alternately bitter and temperate. The violent times are recalled with a fine grain, and are compared to present injustices, which do not have the same media impact as did these spectacular ""witnesses"" of faith. Abernathy throughout provides great insight as preacher and activist. While later hugely disillusioned by politicians, he never loses sight of an inch of the real ground gained in the political field, such as voting rights and the demise of Jim Crow; nor does he lose sight of the distance yet to go. An inimitable history of the evolution of black political power and its players. from the civil-rights era into the present.